Police in Pa. begin publishing names of speeders

June 09, 2007|By PEPPER BALLARD

Pennsylvania State Police in Franklin and Fulton counties have begun publishing the names of motorists nabbed driving faster than 90 mph in the hope that doing so will help deter speeding in their areas and bring awareness to the problem, troopers in those counties said.

In May, troopers in Franklin County clocked six people - ranging in age from 17 to 72 - barreling down Interstate 81 at speeds greater than 90 mph, said Trooper 1st Class Edward Asbury of the Chambersburg, Pa., barracks.

Fulton County troopers, who see their share of speeders on Interstate 70, began counting such offenders in June, said Cpl. Todd Myers of the McConnellsburg barracks.

"This is to make drivers aware (of speeding) a little bit and maybe make them more aware of how fast they're driving ... It's not to embarrass anyone," said Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. William McAreavy of the Chambersburg barracks. "We're trying to deter people from traveling at these types of speeds."


Keith Filer, a Shippensburg, Pa., resident, whom Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg said was caught driving 101 mph, declined to comment for this story. Attempts to reach other local drivers the barracks listed as speeding were unsuccessful.

State police agencies at Tri-State-area barracks in West Virginia and Hagerstown were not participating in a similar program.

McAreavy said that police are disseminating the names through press releases to local media outlets. A representative of Troop H in Harrisburg, Pa., which oversees the Chambersburg barracks, said in a voice mail that he is considering posting the names on the troop's Web site.

"The main concern is that (speeding) puts everybody at risk, not just the driver themselves, but everybody ... Speed slows down reaction time," Asbury said. "Nobody's really been trained to drive at such high speeds."

Asbury said that Troop H came up with the idea to publish the names of motorists caught traveling at speeds topping 90 mph.

Troop G, which oversees the McConnellsburg barracks, followed suit this month.

Asbury said the six citations issued to motorists driving faster than 90 mph during May seemed "kind of low," but added, "I think you will see this number rise as we go on."

McAreavy said it's too early to tell whether the published names will have any effect on speeding. He said he can't predict whether someone whose name is listed as traveling that fast will look at it as a badge of honor or an embarrassment.

In Pennsylvania, a person found driving 90 mph in a 65-mph zone, such as on Interstate 81, could end up facing $175 in fines and assorted costs, including a contribution to the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error fund, Asbury said.

Fines and costs climb the faster a motorist travels over the posted speed limit in the Tri-State area. In some areas, such as active construction zones, fines double.

Asbury estimated that about one-third of the accidents that troopers investigate involve speeding.

By the numbers

There were 1,614 car crashes in Franklin County in 2006, said Ali Wenger, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Franklin County police investigated 13 fatal traffic accidents that they determined were caused by aggressive driving in 2006. Four of those were considered caused by speeding alone, Wenger said.

Fulton County police investigated four fatal car accidents that they determined were caused by aggressive driving, two of which they determined were caused by speeding alone, Wenger said.

Aggressive driving in Pennsylvania is categorized as a combination of or one of any number of "aggressive" actions, such as speeding, tailgating and unsafe lane changing, Wenger said.

In Berkeley County, W.Va., West Virginia State Police Sgt. Tom Kearns said motorists seem to speed most in the six-lane portion of I-81 near Martinsburg, W.Va. The speed limit on the highway is 70 mph through Berkeley County.

"It's not uncommon" for troopers to clock motorists driving faster than 90 mph on the highway, Kearns said, noting that the Martinsburg barracks has not started tallying those found driving more than 20 miles an hour over the speed limit.

He estimated that between seven and 10 motorists are cited each month for driving 90 mph or faster.

A trooper or other law enforcement officer in West Virginia has the ability to charge a motorist with reckless driving instead of speeding if road conditions or other circumstances deem the charge appropriate, Kearns said.

He estimated that troopers in his barracks issue about 10 such citations per month, but said that reckless driving and speeding tend to decline in the winter, when road conditions are worse.

"We have had an upswing in motorcycles operated at a high rate of speed in the last five years or so," Kearns said.

Motorcyclists can't react as quickly as drivers of other vehicles at such speeds, Kearns said. And the consequences can be serious, he said.

"An accident at that speed is almost always going to be fatal," Kearns said.

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